Erik Estrada has been blessed with a career that has spanned more than 30 years, and his talent and personality have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. Although Estrada worked as an actor for years before his first television series, it is for his loveable and dynamic portrayal of Officer Frank Poncherello, affectionately known as "Ponch" in the hit CHiPs, that generations of fans still tune in for another ride.
Estrada has been discovered by a whole new generation and culture who know him as Johnny from the #1 international series for Televisa entitled Dos Mujeres Un Camino (Two Women One Road). The series premiered at #1 and remained at the top of the ratings in the U.S., Mexico and throughout Latin America. Dos Mujeres can also still be seen throughout the world. While traveling to Mexico to shoot his acclaimed telenovela, Estrada learned to speak fluent Spanish and now feels he "owns" his cultural heritage, which he considers a tremendous gift.
Over the years, Estrada has emerged as a pop culture icon. Images of his macho portrayal of "Ponch" are forever embedded in '70s and '80s culture. Erik has had an opportunity to share his great sense of humor with his fans, shooting many cameos on TV and in film. The Popular Culture Society at the University of California, Berkeley, honored him for his lifetime achievements in television and his contribution to pop culture.
Raised in a tough neighborhood in New York City's Spanish Harlem, Erik learned lessons of honor and integrity that he shares in his autobiography "Erik Estrada... My Road from Harlem to Hollywood."
Erik's first real acting break came when actor/director Don Murray selected him to star as a streetwise character opposite Pat Boone in The Cross and the Switchblade, a film that is still shown every week at approximately 500 youth centers across the country because of its powerful anti-drug message.
Following that film, he was convinced that the role of Sergio, a rookie policeman in The New Centurions with George C. Scott, was perfect for him, but the producers did not agree. Undaunted, Erik finally landed the part.
Erik has starred in many films internationally and has guest-starred in numerous one-hour dramas. Recently he has enjoyed sitcom work on many series and is currently a host of American Adventurer, a syndicated travel adventure series. He is also voices a regular character on Sealab 2021 for The Cartoon Network. With numerous national advertising campaigns and endorsements in both Anglo and Latino markets, it seems that Estrada is busier than ever.
Estrada has participated in many community service and outreach programs. He is the national "good wheel" ambassador to The March of Dimes and has been an active participant in events for AIDS Project Los Angeles and Project Inform, as well as charities such as The Police Athletic League, The Youth Athletic League, Big Brothers, Special Olympics, United Way, Amer-I-Can, and the Make a Wish Foundation. He has also been named The International "Face of D.A.R.E." Ambassador, a school-based educational program that teaches students from kindergarten through high school how to avoid becoming involved with drugs, gangs or violence. Estrada continues to be a great supporter of police organizations throughout the world.
This year, Estrada steps forward in a new role to raise awareness about arthritis, a condition that is under-diagnosed in the Hispanic community. As an osteoarthritis sufferer, Estrada is taking his personal experience public with the national B.E.A.T. Arthritis (Boost Education of Arthritis Treatment) campaign to encourage other Hispanics with arthritis to see their doctors and share important health information with their families.
Off screen, Erik resides in Hollywood, California, where he takes pride in his work as a home handyman. He is the father of two sons, Anthony Erik and Brandon Michael-Paul, and a daughter, Francesca Natalia, with his wife Nanette. While he works hard, Erik is known by his friends as a husband and father first.